Unless you’ve visited Japan, or perhaps attended a Japanese festival here in the United States, you probably haven’t had the chance to try amazake. That’s too bad because this sweet beverage isn’t only a tasty treat. It’s also full of fantastic health benefits! Amazake is quite comforting in chilly weather when enjoyed hot or refreshing cold drink in the summer heat.
In Japan, it is a traditional New Year’s drink or enjoyed on special occasions like Hina Matsuri on March 3, but that doesn’t stop people from enjoying it all-year-round. Below, we’ll tell you where you can get your hands on this healthy drink without the need to travel to Japan. But first, here’s everything you need to know about amazake!
What is Amazake?
Amazake is a drink made primarily from fermented rice. In Japan, it is also referred to as sweet porridge and has been consumed as a healthy beverage as far back as the Kofun period, which is the earliest recorded Japanese history era.
It is made using rice that has been fermented by koji and water. Traditional amazake is made with a fermented combination of koji rice and steamed rice. The recipe is extremely similar to sake, although it is non-alcoholic. (Some brands are available containing a very low amount of alcohol). The name amazake actually means “sweet sake,” but it is the absence of yeast that produces this non-alcoholic version.
Amazake can appear in a variety of textures as well, depending on how it is filtered. It can be very thin and smooth to drink, or it can be thicker and somewhat chunky. The chunkiness is due to the rice grains in some of the amazake. It all depends on who is brewing the amazake. Of course, you may have a personal preference for how you would like to enjoy this beverage — smooth and creamy or thicker and chunky.
Because it is essentially a fermented drink, it can exhibit a slightly funky taste and aroma. This can take a little getting used to for those who don’t often eat fermented foods. However, the nutritional aspects and the drink’s freshness make it well worth adding to your regular diet.
Health Benefits of Amazake
Although it can simply be enjoyed as a sweet drink, it is also considered a remedy for several common ailments, such as summer heat fatigue, hangovers, and digestive issues. Amazake’s nickname is “the drinkable IV drip” because it contains so many vitamins and nutrients. Some of the health benefits of amazake include:
- Vitamins B1, B2, B6, folic acid, and many other vital vitamins and minerals
- High amounts of dietary fiber and glucose
- Anti-aging properties
- Strengthening the immune system
- Aiding the digestive process
- Increasing metabolism
- Improving the condition and health of the skin
Adding amazake to your regular diet (one cup a day) is enough to give you a healthy dose of all of the above vitamins and the additional health benefits.
As long as you purchase the non-alcoholic version of amazake, it is also safe to drink for children, pregnant women, and women who are breastfeeding. It is also good vegan food, ensuring you get plenty of vitamins and minerals in one simple cup! While it is still hard to find, amazake is becoming more popular in the United States as many health-conscious individuals realize the astounding health benefits of fermented foods.
How to Drink Amazake
You can enjoy this unique beverage either hot or cold. You can add other ingredients to make it even more flavorful, such as cinnamon, ginger, or vanilla extract.
It is also possible to make your amazake at home, but this can be a process you may not want to attempt. Instead, you can find and order a ready-to-drink amazake online. Once you receive it, all you need to do is pour it into a cup! If you want to heat it, you can microwave it in a microwaveable cup with a lid.
You can also use amazake when cooking as a healthier alternative for sugar, mirin, and soy sauce. You can also add it to smoothies for an extra boost of vitamins and minerals, or enjoy it with fruit in place of cream.